My Thoughts on School Shootings

How We All Miss the Point on School Shootings by: Mark Manson

These are my thoughts after reading the article linked above: ^

On May 23, 2014, a school shooting at the University of California Santa Barbara took place. Ever since then I have been reading article upon article, a series of posts on Facebook of a variety of opinions about the shooting and have been talking to my friends and family about it. I had the urge in the days following the shooting to share my thoughts about what happened, but every time I attempted to write that post, I always froze. I didn’t know what my thoughts were exactly, I didn’t know how to feel about it other than sad and confused.

I have a couple of friends that have attended UCSB, one that actually lives in the Isla Vista community. Fortunately, he was not present during the shooting and fortunately one of the victims he knows personally is recovering in the hospital.

I was talking to my dad and my brother about the shooting and introduced the topic with: “what do you think of this?” Then I proceeded to read a Facebook post that was on my newsfeed written by a friend from school. The post spoke about misogyny and the patriarchal society that puts pressure on both men (to be dominant and “win” women) and women to submit to this type of treatment and fear for their safety on a daily basis from retaliation if they do not submit. As I read that post and many opinions similar, I did not fully agree and I didn’t know why. I am a woman. I relate to a lot of the #YesAllWomen hashtag that is trending on Twitter at the moment. Why don’t I agree with this point of view? I didn’t know until I read this article by author Mark Manson called “How We All Miss the Point on School Shootings.”

When I was speaking with my dad and brother, my dad stood on the grounds that the patriarchal society is a human instinct that would continue to be present even if a Noah and the Arc-type situation would happen, wiping out all humanity and starting again. He says that it is in nature and that, unfortunate as it is that it sacrifices true equality, it will remain. My dad is not a sexist in anyway, so do not judge him for this opinion. He just simply believes that would be extremely difficult to overturn how society has been functioning for centuries, which is a perfectly fair point.

My brother, like me, had no real standpoint on the whole situation. He just kept asking me: how would we solve a problem like this? (referring to school shootings in general) He kept asking me what I thought was the core problem and as he kept asking for my opinion, for some reason I got slightly emotional. I tried to rule out any of the labels Rogers (the shooter) was given: a misogynist, he was mentally ill and/or unstable, etc.

I just told my brother that the solution would be: “Maybe to remember to be nice to one another? A smile, a nod, eye contact with random people that you encounter on a daily basis; I believe that those small actions can make a difference.” I mentioned how everyday Ellen DeGeneres (one of my all-time favorite people) closes her show everyday with “be kind to one another.”

From there, my brother agreed and told the story about a suicidal man that left a letter saying something close to the following: “I will walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and jump off today. The only thing that will prevent me from doing it is if someone I pass by while walking acknowledges me or says hello.” He walked halfway across the bridge and jumped because no one gave him just a smidgen of the time of day to even smile at him.

Stories about shootings and suicidal plans in particular make me sad because it all boils down to how people treat each other. Regardless of a variety of viewpoints, religions, political party affiliation, we should all treat each other with respect and kindness.

I don’t know where I’m going with this post, but I guess those are my thoughts on the UCSB Isla Vista Shooting. The shooter underneath all of the labels being cast upon him, was fully aware of what he was getting himself into. He was, as Manson mentioned in his article, following a tried-and-true formula. Rogers used the media to get the attention he wanted that he was not receiving during his life in the physical world.

It’s difficult for me to comment on the media because a significant amount of my studies in public relations involves media relations, media strategy and media writing. I am aware of the power of the media in all forms (traditional and social) and I know how the general public feels about it. Many people, especially during post-school shooting circumstances, comment on how the media sensationalizes the situation and loses site of the “point” of the shooting which typically means memorializing the victims. I’ve encountered many opinions saying that the media, by constantly reporting on the event, grant exactly what the shooter desired: fame. I agree with that statement. What I would rather see in the news is highlighting the point I mentioned earlier. The point that society as a whole needs to treat each other better; that if we all took this opportunity to evaluate ourselves and the environment we interact with in, that action in itself would better the community. I agree with Manson when he says that the reason why school shootings always take the community by surprise is because the shooters are always someone that was “hiding in plain site.”

I believe that everything happens for a reason and as unfortunate as this situation is, we should take it as an opportunity to learn and better ourselves as individuals. We have the power as individuals to make the community a better and more inviting place to be in. We need to unglue our eyes from our mobile devices once in a while and pay attention to the world around us as it is happening. By living in the present, having an open mind and being compassionate for others in whatever situation they may find themselves in, I strongly believe that less violence would occur.

Anyways, I encourage you to read this article. It really does touch on a lot of forgotten points that should be touched upon during such a tragic incident. My heart goes out to all those affected by the UCSB shooting. May you and your loved ones find peace. ❤